Andy McSmith's Diary: The less than noble Lord Laird will have few friends left in the House

 

John Laird, the Ulster Unionist peer caught in a newspaper sting, is going to have to manage without free car parking and access to Parliament’s subsidised bars and dining rooms for four months, after the Lords Privileges Committee found that he had “demonstrated a clear willingness” to use his position for financial gain. Brian Mackenzie, former Durham Chief Constable and a Labour peer, has also been suspended – in his case, for six months.

If they were MPs, this disgrace would put an end to their political careers at the next election, but these two will be entitled to return in 2014 to enjoy the facilities they have abused.

Lord Laird may not find many friends awaiting him, because the Committee report, published yesterday, gives a graphic insight into his contempt for his fellow peers, as shown in a joke he related to the undercover reporters from The Sunday Times: “We were having a debate about domestic theft and there was nobody in the bloody House except us and a few others. The next night we’re having a debate about the age of consent for homosexuals and the place is full, absolutely bloody standing room only. Homosexuals and foxes are the only things that fill the bloody place. So I said to this elderly guy: ‘Why is it that yesterday we talked about domestic theft – nobody here; this day we’re talking about homosexuals and the place if full?’ He said, ‘There’s a damn sight more buggers here than there are burglars’.”

Oh, my aching sides.

Korea opportunities

As the North Korean people struggle to get through the day, wondering what the execution of their leader’s uncle means for them, British diplomats in South Korea are working on a plan to bring relief. They are trying to clinch a deal that will allow drama, science and nature programmes produced by the BBC to be shown on North Korean television. “This has the potential to expose significant numbers of North Koreans to aspects of the outside world,” the Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire told MPs.

And yet, some MPs thought that old costume dramas and David Attenborough documentaries are not the weapons with which to combat one of the most repressive and erratic tyrannies in history. The Tory MP Fiona Bruce wants the BBC World Service to start broadcasting news in Korean, to repeat the BBC’s success in getting through to people living under Soviet rule.

All the PM’s favourite films

On hearing about the death of Peter O’Toole, David Cameron tweeted: “His performance in my favourite film, Lawrence of Arabia, was stunning.” Yet as recently as October 2011, Cameron told the London Evening Standard that All The President’s Men, based on the Watergate expose, was his favourite film. Can you have two favourite films? Or is it a U-turn?

No, Prime Minister

Benjamin Netanyahu has drawn flak from across the world by refusing to go to Nelson Mandela’s memorial, on the grounds that the Israeli state could not afford the cost of an aircraft and security. Those who fear that this means Israel is flat broke will be relieved to hear there are some items Netanyahu believes his government can afford, including a new aircraft for the exclusive use of the Prime Minister – whose name, by the way, is Benjamin Netanyahu – and the President. He also believes it can afford a new building for the office of the Prime Minister – that is Benjamin Netanyahu, again – and provide a new official residence for the Prime Minister – yep, still Benjamin Netanyahu. The cost would be about £135m, but his own Ministry of Finance has objected.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas